Three myths of balancing work and family life

By Joshua Powner, CSU Marriage and Family Therapist Intern

Do you have a job, but also have a life? How can you have both? Research has shown interesting facts about balancing work and family life that you may not have considered before:

1. It is a myth that your school/work life does not affect your family life.

As a student or employee, you aren’t likely to succeed without completing your tasks or studying for your exams. One study reports high-achieving students are less likely to use unhealthy coping strategies for school-related stress such as alcohol or drug use (Feld & Shusterman, 2015) and instead employ skills in time management.

However, strategies that employ calendars or reminders inevitably remind students of their assignments or exams while at home —which can increase stress. Research suggests that families should recognize that these demands placed on students do not just exist on campus (Delecta, 2011).

The Punchline: Just because you are physically present at home, doesn’t mean you are always mentally present. And that’s normal! Set clear boundaries with your partner/family for when it is okay for you to “mentally check out” for school, and when it is okay.

2. It is a myth that “all a student needs” is better time management skills to balance work and family life.

Research indicates that time management skills are not independent of personality traits such as how conscientious someone may be (MacCann, Fogarty, & Roberts, 2012). This conscientiousness, or someone’s awareness and preparedness, can be enhanced with the right kinds of motivation.

The Punchline: What academically drives you? Rekindle that personal fire within you of why you chose your major, and your usage of time management skills is likely to increase.

3. It is a myth that balancing work and family life is a 50/50 split.

The realms of work and family life each work in cycles where responsibilities may ebb and flow (Delecta, 2011). For example, depending on your specific kind of work, you may be assigned deadlines for projects to be completed, you may be required to fly out to a conference, or your hours of operation may greatly exceed the standard close of business.

Family life is no different. Your partner or children may get sick and need extra attention, your pets may soil the carpets yet again, or you may have a family vacation coming up that gives no room to focus on your work.

The Punchline: Set realistic expectations about what balance means to you. It is very unlikely that your average week will be a 50/50 split between family life and work life. Sometimes it all happens at once – just be sure to find and establish balance.

If you would like additional support navigating the realities of this time, the CSU Center for Family and Couple Therapy has registered counselors available to meet with you now. The CFCT is currently providing all Colorado residents low-cost individual, couple, and family online video sessions during daytime and evening hours to fit your schedule. To schedule an appointment, please call (970) 491-5991 or email


Delecta, P. (2011). Work life balance. International Journal of Current Research, 3(4), 186-189.

Feld, L. D., & Shusterman, A. (2015). Into the pressure cooker: Student stress in college preparatory high schools. Journal of Adolescence, 41, 31-42.

MacCann, C., Fogarty, G. J., & Roberts, R. D. (2012). Strategies for success in education: Time management is more important for part-time than full-time community college students. Learning and Individual Differences, 22(5), 618-623.